Volkswagen Says Hydrogen Cars ?A Sales Struggle? Outside Japan: Report Photo:
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Trevor Collett | Sep, 15 2014 | 3 Comments

Volkswagen’s Japan boss, Shigeru Shoji, reportedly believes hydrogen-powered vehicles will struggle to sell outside of the Japanese market.

Speaking with Bloomberg, Mr Shoji pointed to the challenges of handling hydrogen from a refuelling perspective and said the necessary infrastructure would be expensive.

Mr Shoji’s prediction is also based on significant subsidies on hydrogen vehicles from the Japanese government (as much as AU$31,000), which he believes won’t be matched by other countries.

“It may fly within Japan, but not globally,” Mr Shoji said.

“Fuel cells could become another example of the ‘Galapagos syndrome’, which plagues Japanese companies for making products that are only popular at home.”

But while that home-grown popularity may be driven by government subsidies, Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett reportedly told Bloomberg it was a similar situation for the hybrid-powered Toyota Prius when it first came to market.

Initial sales for the Prius in Japan were strong - thanks again to government subsidies - which helped spearhead a global campaign that has seen more than four million sales since.

2015 Toyota FCV
2015 Toyota FCV

Mr Corbett said Toyota believes hydrogen is one of the best fuels to tackle CO2 emissions, while conceding the technology is “relatively expensive” at present and unlikely to get off the ground without government support.

And like the Prius, Toyota is pushing ahead in the Japanese market with its ‘pioneering’ model in the FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle), priced from AU$73,000 and available to customers from April 2015.

Outside Japan, Toyota expects the strongest demand for the FCV to come from California and the East Coast in general in the US, along with Germany in Europe.

MORE: Volkswagen News | Toyota News | Hydrogen News

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